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Three teenagers killed in crash with ambulance: youth, 16, was driving

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Three teenage boys have been killed in a collision between a private car and an ambulance in Helmond. One of the youngsters, a 16-year-old from Nuenen, was driving the car at the time.

He and two others, aged 15 and 16 and from Eindhoven, died in the crash. A fourth passenger, aged 15, was taken to hospital with serious injuries. The two people in the ambulance were also taken to hospital for observation.

The car is thought to have hit the ambulance after ending up on the wrong side of the road shortly after midnight. The ambulance was not carrying patients at the time and was on its way back to the depot.

According to the Telegraaf, a canister of laughing gas was found next to the car but it is, as yet, unclear if it had been in the vehicle or if it had a role in the accident. The legal driving age in the Netherlands is 18 although 17-year-olds who have passed their theory and practical tests can drive under the supervision of a more experienced driver.

Youngsters can take the theory test at 16 and take lessons from the age of 16 and a half but cannot take the test until they turn 17. Update Sunday afternoon: A police spokesman told the Telegraaf the owner of the car had been identified but they did not yet know what the relationship is between the owner and the boys, and how they got hold of the vehicle.



Seventeen men face court after paying for sex with girl, 16

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Seventeen men who paid to have sex with a 16-year-old girl face will face prosecution even though they said they were not aware she was underage, the public prosecution department has confirmed.

The men who come from the Eindhoven region will appear in court on Tuesday charged with having sex with an underage prostitute. The three drivers who took the girl to hotels in Eindhoven and Limburg will also face charges, the Eindhovens Dagblad reported.

‘We do everything we can to prevent minors ending up in prostitution,’ department spokeswoman Janine Kramer said. ‘So, everyone who had a role in this will be dealt with.’

The case broke two years ago after detectives were tipped off about sex advert. Detectives made an appointment and, when they arrived at the hotel, found the 16-year-old.

Details of her clients were recovered from her mobile phone. The case is the biggest of its kind in the Netherlands since 2015, when six men were convicted of having sex with a 16-year-old girl. Her pimp was jailed for two years.



Dutch go for ‘short, sharp shock’ as coronavirus cases soar

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands is pressing ahead with what prime minister Mark Rutte has described as ‘a short, sharp shock’ to drastically reduce contacts between people and hopefully limit the spread of coronavirus.

The new rules come after the number of new infections in the Netherlands soared to over 16,000 a day and hospitals are being forced to cancel operations because coronavirus patients are taking up so many beds.

The new measures come into effect on Saturday at 6pm, and include an 8pm closing time for cafes, supermarkets and restaurants, mandatory seating in bars and at events, and no supporters at both amateur and professional sports matches.

The measures also include a 75 limit on the number of people attending college and university lectures and a 6pm closing time for sex workers, casinos and all contact professions. They will initially run for three weeks.

The aim, said Rutte, is to slow the spread of the virus in the coming weeks ahead of the introduction of new laws which are ‘more appropriate given that most people are vaccinated.’

‘The measures will have an impact on many people,’ he said. ‘We have had long and intensive talks because there are so many interests at stake. It is very complicated.’

Financial support

Employers will be able to claim financial help for lost income, but those details are still being worked out, Rutte said. ‘We will do it fully and decently. We aim to be generous to the sectors which are being affected.’

In the meantime, ministers are working on new legislation which will expand the use of the coronavirus pass – the QR code which shows if someone has been vaccinated, had a negative test or recently had the virus.

Health minister Hugo de Jonge said that people who have not been vaccinated are more likely to get sick and to end up in hospital. ‘The question is,do we have to close down parts of society or can we keep it as open as possible with the coronavirus pass,’ he said.

Non-food shops

The legislation will cover the introduction of the coronavirus pass in non-essential shops and at work – if employers want to use it. It will also make it possible to introduce the QR codes in higher education.

Festival and other organisers of events without fixed seating will also be able to limit admittance to events to people who have either been vaccinated or recently had the virus – the so-called 2G system.

‘There is more risk for people who have not been vaccinated’ if they pick up the virus at a mass event, De Jonge said. ‘They are 17 times more likely to end up in hospital and 33 times more likely to end up in an IC unit.’

Free choice

De Jonge denied this is, in effect, compulsory vaccination. ‘There is a free choice,’ he said. ‘But choices have consequences. Do we have no cafes and no events, or do we only allow the people who are vaccinated, and therefore protected, to attend?’

Asked if the Netherlands should not have done more to expand hospital and IC capacity, De Jonge said this had been done over the past 18 months. ‘At the moment we are trying to keep regular care going, which was not the case last year,’ he said.

Scaling up the number of IC beds, he said, means there will not be enough capacity for regular care. MPs will debate the new measures next Tuesday.



New coronavirus cases top 16,000 for the second day in a row

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A total of 16,287 new coronavirus cases were reported to national health institute RIVM in the 24 hours to Friday morning, down slightly on Thursday’s figure but still higher than the average daily total over the past week.

Almost 18% of people tested in a regional health board testing centre are positive for coronavirus, and the infection rate is now 93.5 per 100,000 people, the highest value since the pandemic began.

Most new cases – 688 – were recorded in Amsterdam, followed by Rotterdam (482) and Utrecht (244). The government is due to announce a new package of measures to bring down the infection rate on Friday evening.

A further 259 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in the 24 hours to Friday morning, the biggest increase since May 15. The new arrivals take the total number of people in hospital with coronavirus to 1,755 and the number of new admissions has now risen for 31 days in a row.

Earlier this week a number of hospitals sounded the alarm, saying that regular patient care is now being affected by the number of coronavirus cases and that they may soon be forced to decide who to treat.

The hospital numbers, although rising, are still well down on May 2020 when nearly 1,400 coronavirus patients were being treated in an IC unit.



The Netherlands faces three weeks of partial lockdown, cafes to close at 7pm

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The cabinet is set to announce a three-week partial lockdown at Friday evening’s press conference, in an effort to get the Netherlands soaring coronavirus infections under control, Dutch media report.

Cafes, restaurants, and bars will have to close at 7pm, as will non-essential shops. People will also be advised to work at home as much as possible and to limit the number of visitors to no more than four, cabinet sources have told broadcaster NOS.

The measures will come into effect at 7pm on Saturday, NOS said. According to the AD, cafes and bars may also have to bring back compulsory seating but there are no plans to bring in a general curfew.

The new restrictions have been prompted by a surge in both coronavirus cases and hospital admissions. On Thursday, over 16,300 new cases were reported, a daily record, and the number of people on IC wards has now reached 330.


A three-week partial lockdown is more than recommended by government health advisors, but is being seen as a trade off against other advice. The government is not planning to close cinemas and theatres – which had been suggested by the Outbreak Management Team.

Sports matches can go ahead but without supporters, NOS said. This means Tuesday evening’s World Cup qualification game between Oranje and Norway would take place in an empty stadium.

In the meantime, the cabinet wants to anchor other measures – such as the return of social distancing – in law, NOS said. It will take one or two weeks to get that through both houses of parliament.

2G However, ministers have not yet decided whether to shift to the so-called 2G system, where coronavirus passes are only issued to people who are either fully vaccinated or have recently had coronavirus.

That discussion will continue at Friday morning’s cabinet meeting, but preparations are underway to implement it, RTL Nieuws said. Ministers will also brief the 25 regional safety board chiefs about the changes on Friday morning.



The Netherlands may face ‘lockdown-type measures’ to curb rising Covid cases: NOS

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Government advisors are recommending ‘lockdown type measures’ to combat the rise in coronavirus infections for a two week period, sources close to the Outbreak Management Team have told broadcaster NOS.

The seriousness of the situation – new infections are reaching record levels – makes such measures unavoidable, the sources say. If ministers go along with the proposals, something that has not yet been decided, events will be cancelled, and cinemas and theatres will close.

There could also be changes to bar and café opening times, and on the size of permitted groups, NOS said. Schools, however, will remain open. Ministers are meeting to discuss the proposals on Thursday morning, ahead of Friday’s press conference with caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge.

The sources also say that once the lockdown is over, there would be a change in the coronavirus pass system, which would only be available to people who had either been fully vaccinated or had recently had coronavirus.

The so-called 2G rule would exclude people who have tested negative for the virus from attending events and going out to cafes and theatres. Should ministers decide against the mini lockdown, other measures, such as the return of social distancing, should be brought back, the OMT sources said.



Netherlands records more than 16,000 coronavirus cases in 24 hours

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands recorded its highest number of coronavirus cases in a single day on Thursday, with 16,324 people testing positive for the disease.

The figure is more than 3,000 higher than the previous record set on December 20 last year, at the peak of the second wave. The seven-day average also rose to an all-time high of 12,319.

The number of patients in hospital was 1,699, an increase of 52 since Wednesday, of whom 330 are in intensive care.

The public health agency RIVM also reported another 26 deaths on Thursday, against an average of 24 over the last seven days. A week ago, the average number of deaths announced per day was 18.

Prime minister Mark Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge will give a press conference on Friday evening where they are expected to announce ‘lockdown-style’ measures including the closure of theatres and cinemas, restricted numbers at events such as football matches and earlier closing times for bars and restaurants.

The CoronaCheck pass is also likely to be limited to people with proof of vaccination or recent infection, the ‘2G’ system that is already being used in countries such as Germany and Austria.




SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Leader of the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) Gracita Arrindell reflects with nostalgia on past Sint Maarten Day celebrations: “It’s really amazing to see how many things have changed on Sint Maarten in a relatively short span of time. Not too long-ago preparations to commemorate Sint Maarten Day started almost immediately after the day of festivities. For example, schools were actively involved by government in putting together and being part of the program events.

“Our beautiful Island basked gloriously with pride while many hung flags on cars, homes and businesses. We must give ‘Jack his Jacket’ and give former Commissioner of Culture Mr. Louie Laveist and the Constitutional Affairs department credit for organizing some of the most memorable Sint Maarten Day celebrations. One such successful event was celebrated under the theme ‘RALLY AROUND THE FLAG ‘sung by Ms Zahira Hilleman was a resounding hit.

“Our Sint Maarten Flag hung proudly everywhere in abundance. People from all walks of life wore their T- shirts as they participated in the celebrations with noticeable excitement.”

Arrindell stated: Sadly, on the eve of celebrating Sint Maarten Day November 11th, 2021, Lottery flags fly high and mighty dominating our streets -scape everywhere. Additionally, flags of other nations are also proudly displayed in absence of display of correct protocols pertaining thereto. How do we get back on track?

“It takes Leadership, Vision and Pride to successfully prepare and execute a policy to commemorate Sint Maarten day or FLAG Day in a grandiose manner regardless of which government is in office. We must celebrate Sint Maarten Day with pride and respect while at the same time honor each day the beauty of our island and its environment”.

‘Gracita continues: “The prejudice against our beautiful island is disgustingly displayed when drivers continue to throw garbage out of their cars. Too many vehicles commuting with uncovered garbage that litters the roads on their way to their final destinations. The unashamed urinating on public roads in plain sight by drivers who could care less of what this means to his fellow citizen or tourist passing by. Why we ask? Perhaps because there are no consequences to this behavior?”

Gracita concludes: “Commemorating Sint Maarten day means appreciation of Who we are as a People and How we care for this Country we all call our home. “Let us reflect collectively as a Nation by doing our individual part to make Sint Maarten Strong and Proud. It is not what you say. It is what you do. Happy Sint Maarten day November 11, 2021.”


62nd Annual St. Martin Day Celebration takes place this Thursday

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – November 11th, 2021, marks the 62nd Annual St. Martin Day Celebration of kinship, solidarity, resilience, and endurance of the people of St. Martin. St. Martin Day, a people’s day celebration as envisioned by our founding fathers Dr. Claude Wathey and Dr. Hubert Petit, and brought to life yearly by dedicated civil servants, cultural activists, and knowledge bearers, who work diligently to ensure that this vision of togetherness is observed.

The celebration comes alive again this year November 11th with the theme “We stand triumphant in the face of adversity”.

This year, due to safety concerns surrounding the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, the Government of Sint Maarten has chosen to celebrate part of the activities in person and part in a virtual prerecorded format.

The in person celebration will consist of an Ecumenical Church Service at the New Testament Baptist Church in Philipsburg at 8:00 am followed by the traditional laying of the wreath at the Cole Bay Border monument. The virtual celebration will consist of addresses by Government officials representing both sides of the island, musical, poetry, dance and cultural performances by St. Martin artists.

Below is a view of the program line up of performances

Faizah Tabasamu & Beverly Nisbeth - “A St. Martin Soak”

Dance & Arts Dimension Academy Foundation - “I Will Stand and Serve My Country St Maarten”

Elysian - “Goodness of God”

Dance & Arts Dimension Academy Foundation - “I Will Go”

Rudy’s Performing Arts Dance & Expressions - “St Maarten Rhumba”

Tefari Prevoo - “St Martin Is My Home”

“Shakiya” - “For the Love of St Martin”

Charisse Piper - “To Remember”

King Stunky - “Where Has Our Culture Gone”

National Institute of Arts - “SXM Songs Medley”

Zee - “Calypso Here To Stay”

Alphonso Blijden -Interview

Elysian - “Find My Way”

Funtopia Performers - “Rumba Fever”

Carlson Velazquez - Interview

Family String Band -

Chanti - “Don’t Give Up

Bianca Dijkhoffz - Interview

King Vers - “Who Shot Ya”

“Entry Pelican” - “Ghetto Pain”

Tamillia - “Do Me”

Cultural Dress Presentation - drs Rodolphe Samuel - Minister Education Culture Youth & Sport & Clara Reyes Head Department of Culture

King Patou - “Love”

King James - “Jooking Me”

King Repeater - “SXM We Thank You”

Family String Band in collaboration with Our Creation St. Martin Arts and Craft National Cultural Parade Display

The community of St. Martin at home and abroad are invited to tune in to the Government of Sint Maarten online media outlets to view the celebrations. Coverage kicks off at 8:00 am with live coverage of the Ecumenical Church Service via the SXMGOV Facebook page and SXMGOV Radio Station 107.9 FM.

The virtual presentation can be seen later in the afternoon at 5:00 pm via the SXMGOV online media and on TelTV Channel 15 with a repeat at 9:00 pm. The Government of Sint Maarten wishes one and all a Happy, Healthy and Safe 62nd St Martin Day Celebration when it comes.


Funtopia Performers


Dance & Arts Dimension Academy Foundation Performers



Radboudumc calls for earlier booster vaccines to relieve pressure on healthcare

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Nijmegen’s Radboudumc teaching hospital has called on the government to speed up the rollout of coronavirus booster jabs to help drive down infections.

Chantal Bleeker, professor of infectious disease outbreak, said the first week of December was ‘too late’ to prevent a crisis in the health service with the number of coronavirus patients rising by around 35% a week.

‘There are vaccines in stock, so let’s act straight away to start earlier with boosters,’ she told De Gelderlander. Nearby countries including Germany, the UK, Belgium and France have already started giving booster vaccines to people as young as 50, but in the Netherlands the health council only advised a third dose for the over-60s a week ago.

Bleeker said studies had shown that the effectiveness of the vaccine had dropped to below 90% in over-70s in the last month, which was likely to explain why more older people were being taken to hospital with Covid-19.

‘A lot of people are still getting seriously ill relative to the age group,’ she said. ‘We don’t want that, mainly for those people, but also because of the huge pressure on healthcare.

That’s a second important reason to start giving those boosters.’ She added that the pressure on the system was being made worse by high sickness levels among healthcare staff, who have worked flat-out for 18 months to treat patients during the pandemic.

‘Usually it’s 6% to 7%, but in Covid departments and intensive care it’s gone up to 15% to 20%. We’re no longer able to do what we did during the first wave of coronavirus because we want to keep regular healthcare running too. We need to do all we can to make sure everyone continues to have access to healthcare.’


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